Corruption people say is synonymous with Nigerian name. And this has no small measure severally daunted the reputation of nation globally while the few innocent Nigerians suffer its negative effects. In this exclusive with His Royal Highness, Igwe Jonathan Onyekwere, he barred his mind to Chris RICHARDS on some of the bugging issues confronting the country.
Your Highness, may we meet you, Sir?
My name is His Royal Highness Igwe Jonathan Onyekwere, Eze Igbo II of Masaka, Karu LGA of Nasarawa state and the Igwe Ekpuanya of Akpueze in Oji River LGA of Enugu state.
Sir, what is your assessment of the security situation in the country?
The security personnel are trying but they need to try more. And for them to perform better they need a strong political will from our politicians. How can they with ordinary hands tackle this dreaded Boko Haram insurgency, the militancy threats, ritual killings, armed robbery attack and kidnappings presently bedeviling our dear country if they are not properly supported and well equipped? It will be absolutely impossible for them to perform magic.
In which areas are they trying?
If they are not trying you and me won’t be here today. Though they are not God but all the same you should remember they too are human beings like. We need to supply them with good information to track down these hoodlums because they live with us in our various domains. You KNOW Nigeria is a very large country so it’s not easy to police or cover the whole nation at same time. Most importantly, they need our support and encouragement to work effectively.
Recently the Presidency directed that some of the Boko Haram inmates be transferred to Anambra state. What’s your take on that?
No, no, it’s not good. I don’t see the reason why it is only Anambra stateout of the 36 states of the federation including the FCT, Abuja that receive that unkind gesture from the federal government. We, the Igbos don’t like the idea. It’s not good for us. Is it the only benefit the Buhari government will give to the Igbos? Look at his political appointments so far, no Igbo person has been appointed into any principal position. Are we not Nigerians as others? Now it is Boko Haram suspects they will give us as compensation. We vehemently object to that. Why can’t they take them to the other states or better to the states they were arrested. How can you commit a crime in the North and they take you to the South to keep. We don’t like that. Let the President hear us as a listening father he is known for.
If the government removes the Boko Haram suspects to any other states in Nigeria I believe, those states will be crying foul too. Are we not one Nigeria any longer?
Hasn’t the federal government right to detain any suspected criminal awaiting trial in any of its choice states?
We are one Nigeria, but they suppose to detain them where they committed the said crime against humanity. You cannot go and commit crime in the FCT and they take you to Plateau state to detain. It’s not fair. The idea is unfair. Whoever muted the idea is not fair to the Igbos especially Anambra states because the concentration of these bandits will be focused on our land. You see all these incessant jail breaks in the country anything can happen because they are not from there and have no stake and therefore that place is vulnerable for attack from their colleagues and we say we don’t want it. Let our area not be taken as a green area for their theatre of war by forcing these criminals to stay on our land.
People in some quarters alleges that President Muhammadu Buhari is running a veageance government where his government has started probing past officials of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration instead concentrating first on building a formidable government.
Do you subscribe this argument?
President Buhari is trying on his own because in Nigeria who knows whom the cap fits should be allowed to wear it. In Nigeria no one will be there that people will not call names, that he is a wicked man. In Nigeria we like to call leaders all sorts of names, it’s not good but they too should change for better in the art of governance. Former President Goodluck Jonathan tried when he was there and now it’s the turn of President Buhari. He is trying on his own too. He is doing his best because it’s not easy to control a family talk more of a whole country like Nigeria.
Specifically on the issue of corruption, what have you to say?
Do you think President Muhammadu Buhari can solve Nigeria’s myriads of problems which majors on corruption with only four years?
Well, he said he will but only God knows who can solve our nation’s numerous problems especially corruption because Nigeria’s Corruption index is so alarming to the extent that corruption is regarded as a national cake.
You can see his moves now trying to curb the excesses of those sacred cows in government that have thrown this country into economic bankruptcy.
Do you think this is a step in the right direction?
If he can fight the immediate past corrupt leaders, what about the old ones? Why can’t he start right from the past military era to date? Why can’t he start with them first, so that his government’s anti-corruption policy can be applauded? Are they going to solve the corruption of one month? Or are they going to solve the corruption of one week? What about the corruption of 20-30 years ago Are they not still corruption? What are we going to do them? My advice is that if he really wants to fight corruption let he starts from the old ones first. So if he says he is going to fight from the immediate past Jonathan government alone, my brother it will not work. Let’s put our nation in the hands of God because anyone who wants to fight our nation’s corrupt leaders must start from himself and must be very prayerful, committing himself in the hands of God for proper guidance because where God wins, corruption will be defeated.
President Buhari two months after his swearing-in has been running his government without ministers. What is your opinion on this?
That is number one corruption.
How can you run a government for over two months in a country as large as Nigeria without the ministers? And you say, you can do it all alone? He cannot be in Sokoto and be in Maiduguri same time, somebody’s eye must be there. So I did not support his on this. He should appoint his ministers as soon as possible to keep the government going. Let them try their own too to help him in the art of governance because it is not easy for only a person to oversee a country like Nigeria no matter how clever one may be.
Until recently, the National Assembly has been in loggerhead with one another over positions thereby paralyzing the country’s legislative functions.
What’s your view on this?
That’s why I said earlier that no leader for now in Nigeria that can be able to boldly come out to fight corruption. National Assembly members are number two corrupt leaders because they fight in-house for their selfish interests not minding the people that elected them to power. How can you go and be fighting for leadership over there when you are already an elected leader from your constituency. They believe when they assume this self acclaimed leadership there, the more money they will get into their kitty. It’s very bad and quite unfortunate. If it is my wish, I won’t like them to be placed on salary but sitting allowances as it and but we want to be industrialized come 2020 but we don’t want to save for our future and future of our children. What we shall emulate is how to corruptly enrich ourselves. It’s bad. They are not there for the masses but for themselves and pockets and families. It is my wish that President Buhari should look into this very seriously because what they are consuming there is so alarming which no right thinking country and its good leaders can tolerate the over bloating of government budgets caused by jumbo packages to the nation’s political appointees. They should only be placed on allowances alone, making the place non attractive, if this country is to survive to move forward. What of our farmers who are suffering and are paying their taxes and nothing is being done for them in terms having motor-able roads, affordable medical care, qualitative and affordable education for their children, fertilizers for their farm produce, potable pipe borne water and rural electrification to avoid rural-urban migration? No government in Nigeria has ever thought towards direction but their individual pockets and they often go to overseas and see how things are done there but wickedly comes back to do the negative in their country. Some of them even invested in other people’s land at the detriment of theirs.
Will you attribute this to the socio-economic inequality in the country?
Yes, where the rich becomes richer and poor poorer. May God save us from these people’s hands because this is neo-colonization from our own brothers not the White men again?
How can we curb it?
What we call democracy here in Nigeria unlike other countries is for the big to become bigger while the small becomes smaller. So if Nigeria should know the meaning of democracy, then they should look at it very properly for our equal opportunity to our commonwealth because I don’t see any reason why a poor man cannot grow up in Nigeria when the big man will always be on top and upon that be pressing down on the poor who are the weaker ones in our society today. Like what happened where l am from now, that’s not how a country that has the interest of her citizens at heart can do.
What exactly happened where you are coming from?
I never see where local government council will collaborate with a court to go and be packing people’s property in the name of revenue generation. It happened now at Uke in Karu LGA of Nasarawa state. It’s bad for a whole judiciary to instead of protecting the common man as the last arbiter, is siding government operators’ illegalities. It’s unfair. The local government attached themselves with the Magistrate here and be packing people’s property to court on the ground that they are revenue collectors without any prior notice. The local government should access people’s property before coming up with their bills because they are doing nothing with this money from the poor masses but pocketing them for their personal wants. You don’t stay in the office and write any kind of bill to them when you are not doing anything for them. The judiciary should remove their hands from partisan politics because they should not be known for that. Look at our roads here, no light, no water, no health centers talk more of hospitals and so on, and still every time they are coming to collect our money in the name of operation permit.
How is the security situation here like?
Last three weeks, I went to the AIT to complain that there is no security here. We are at the mercy of the criminals here. Masaka don’t have security. When I complained they said let the people do it by themselves. Though the police here are trying their best but a-times the type of insecurity here over-powers them. There was an incident that warranted the soldiers to come before normalcy could be restored here in Masaka for over a week but for the soldiers’ intervention. How can we employ the services of private security people when we have a government that says they caring for its people. Is the national security meant for only big men alone? Are we not paying our taxes to the same government? We don’t have any security in Masaka her, so many things are happening here my brother.
You have the divisional police headquarters very close to you here, how have you been relating with the DPO and his officers and men?
Our relationship is very cordial and they have been trying their best but I tell you there are certain incidences that can over-power the divisional police. Now, how better is the police here equipped to do their job? No encouragement and no appreciation to them irrespective the known fact that police in Nigeria is not well equipped to march with the type of crime they fight every day, that’s why I am suggesting that the government should give us the military people for our utmost safety because what is happening in Masaka here is above the police.
What exactly is happening in Masaka that is above the police?
Let me tell you last two weeks these Okada riders over-powered the police in Masaka where they nearly burnt the Police Divisional Headquarters before the military people came to intervene. They closed this road for more than one week.
Do you think that police with their civil nature can do it? No. the only road leading to the Masaka market was blocked for one week.
What was the response of the police authorities from the state command in Lafia?
Did you make any complaints as the custodian of the people?
Yes, I went to the DPO who tried his best then. But without the presence of military people it would have been bad for us here. We are only praying to God because we don’t have security in Masaka for many bad things are happening here. When it happens it is only the Igbo man property they rush to, to spoil.
There was an event here today. What actually happened?
Few months ago we lost our Eze Igbo I of Masaka, late Igwe Dennis Nweke, that’s why today the Esu of Masaka and the Sarkin Hausawa of Masaka crowned me the Eze Igbo II of Masaka, that’s why you see so many people here. It’s a great day for us here in Masaka.
What do you think you can use this position to do, in terms of curbing the excesses of the criminals here?
I will use it to make sure that there is peace between the Igbos and other tribes living here as well as the indigenes. Thank You.